Devonthink Pro Office scanners, scanners, scanners...

I’ve been a DTPO user for a few years now, and I’ve not really taken advantage of the paperless option that’s been staring me right in the face. I archive EVERYTHING that I have in digital format in DTPO and it works great.

I’m currently sick of dealing with paper in my home office and decided it’s time to get rid of it. I’ve got 2 filing cabinets full of paper and it’s growing… I’m looking at the Fujitsu Scansnap s1500m simply because it’s something that appears to be well supported by DTPO. I’m basically looking for the lowest barrier to entry and I loathe filing and I always leave it till it’s well over due. The question I have is the Scansnap s1500m still relevant given that it’s a few years old now and rather expensive? It’s also quite slow by modern standards. Is there still an advantage using it over any other scanner with DTPO?

I’ve noticed that Devontechnologies does not bundle them with their software any more and was wondering if there’s better alternatives - keep in mind that a seamless workflow is VERY important, I want as many pain points removed from this process - I feel that if it’s no easier than dealing with paper there’s almost no point…

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

I think the ScanSnaps are the best scanners by a wide margin for a home or small-office paperless approach, and of them the S1500M is still the best desktop solution. It’s duplex, reasonably fast and in my experience 100 per cent reliable. The bundled software is also well worth having – in the case of Adobe Acrobat Pro more or less worth the price of the entire hardware and software bundle.

It was on this basis that after researching the choices, I bought a S1500M about six months ago. Since then the S1300i has been launched: with the same software and more portable and cheaper, but slower and with a less easy document flow. Nothing has made me regret my purchase of the S1500M.

Apart from the DT website, Help files and tutorials, I’ve found three resources useful in getting me to the point where my own filing, moving and naming efforts are minimised:

As far as I remember, Joe Kissell’s Take Control book appraises various scanners.


Thanks for that.

I’ve pulled the trigger and put an order in for one. It was quite hard locating one in New Zealand but I’ve managed.

I’m a little concerned as I couldn’t find much about user experience with the s1500m and DTPO. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist but it’s almost like there’s not a lot of users out there.

I’ve been using DTPO for a few years now and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of it, I might finally be able to justify the PO license by adding a document scanner.

Could those of you who paired DTPO with a scanner please tell me more about your workflow? This is something that I haven’t been able to find much on…

I thinks there’s more around on using DTPO and the ScanSnap than any other scanner. Apart from the resources I’ve listed above (with Documentsnap especially useful) I recommend carrying out a search on this forum. For example, there’s this very recent thread: [url]My System].

A key software tool in going paperless that is mentioned there and elsewhere is Hazel:

TextExpander (or one of its rivals) is also useful if you want to do quick file re-naming post-scanning:

David Sparks’ book covers the uses of both of these, as does the Documentsnap site.

My view is that there’s no one-size-fits-all workflow. Everyone’s needs are slightly different. The best thing one can do is to read as much as you can - and that should include workflows like David Sparks that don’t include DTPO, but which can still teach a lot - and then plan out one’s own.

I had just posted that and then stumbled upon the thread. I have looked at Hazel briefly but it does look like I’ll have to invest in it.

I do have a question about the books by Joe Kissell. I submitted my workflow as part of the writing of the book on Devonthink and therefor I got to read the preview. I found it to be very shallow (which is fair enough since it’s a getting started book), I’m a software developer and I’m very much a power user in every sense of the word. Is the book on going paperless worth a read or is it more of a basic getting started guide for those who are technically challenged (nothing wrong with this kind of book, but it always leaves me, personally, disappointed)!?

I look at it this way. If you can succeed in, at the very least, cutting down the amount of paper that you have to find room for, then the savings you’ll make over the years should far outweigh the price and time invested in the Sparks book. It’s a quick read, nicely put together, with a number of helpful videos - although you may still find it disappointing!

But - of all the paperless resources I’ve looked at, I’ve found the tutorials on the Documentsnap site most useful; they do include workflows - more expenditure however.

By the way, one much larger item of expenditure that you should budget for in going paperless but which it’s easy to ignore is better on-site back-up facilities - assuming you’re not well set-up already (back-up on-line for the volume of data paperless generates can consume lots of bandwidth and, literally, months of upload time).

Backups are definitely something near and dear to my heart - I’ve had a major disaster a few years ago loosing the only copy of the source code for a 50k project, I’d already finished it and needed to make a bug fix. Long story short, I’m backed up to the hilt.

I’m currently looking at setting up off site backups on Amazon S3 and either using Devonthink sync or Arq to do the job. For the most part I don’t need all of my terra-bytes of data off site, I’m thinking around 50 gb for DT databases should be ample, that’s around $5-$10 per month from what I can gather…

oh on another note, internet speed is not an issue for me since I’ve got a fibre connection :smiley: upload does cost me though, but I expense most of that through my company…

I’m disappointed with Fujitsu because their website says they have discontinued support for my scanner. I have the S510M, which has served me well and is still working fine. I’m going to update to to Yosemite and am wondering if my scanner will still work. If I have to, I’ll get another scanner but I’d rather not do business with Fujitsu if they are going to stop issuing drivers for it while it still works great.

Any suggestions about other scanners that work well?

Well, to be honest, having had my 510M for longer than I can remember, I would not penalize Fujitsu for not supporting it any longer. Back in my Wintel days, scanner support was never long term, and I recall buying new scanners every few years - when manufacturers keep improving models, you should expect older ones to eventually reach their end-of-life.

Besides, I learned a long time ago if you are going to use a scanner with Devonthink software, Fujitsu is the brand to get.

— update —
Oops, I have the S500M, not the 510. I now use Yosemite and have no problems with the S500M.

In my view, it would be a mistake to abandon the Fujitsu scanner brand. It would be “cutting off your nose to spite your face”. I agree with pvonk - but not only for the reason he gives. For the home user likely to be also using DevonThink products, the Fujitsu Scansnaps remain ahead of their competitors; the latest “top-end” model, the ix500, is by far the best home-office document scanner I’ve used - fast and less prone to jam.

I have had several Fujitsu and Epson scanners over the years. I think the current Fujitsu Scansnap ix500 and Epson DS-560 are roughly equivalent in performance. In fact, I much prefer the Epson for its color fidelity.

My only complaint with the Epson at the moment is that it doesn’t handle dense text (think tiny print in Chinese / Japanese for dictionaries). You’ll notice blurred regions that appear to be a software issue, because they occur in the same place on each page. It is a relatively minor problem that most people would never notice in regular use, because they are probably working with English printed at decent sizes.

As for the various integrations and software automation stuff, Fujitsu seems to put more effort into it, but I don’t use them, so I can’t really comment on differences between Fujitsu and Epson in this regard. I’ve never had a scanner die on me – I eventually upgrade and sell them. In fact, I’ve never even had to replace parts, even though I do a ton of scanning (many hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each week). It’s weird how sturdy they are.

@Buffalo 77: I bought the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M when it first came out and it served me faithfully over the years. But it had problems with scanning documents that had been folded for mailing, often resulting in feeder jams. I got in the habit of feeding in such documents one page at a time, and that worked.

After all those years, I bought the iX500 and feeder jams are almost nonexistent. I gave the S510M who uses an older Mac (and version of OS X) and it works well for her needs.

For unbound copy the ScanSnaps remain my favorite because of their speed and reliability, the quality of the images they produce, the ability to do duplex copies automatically and the versatility of the ScanSnap Manager software.

Bound copy is of course another matter entirely. It’s possible to copy books using a flatbed scanner, but the cost is experience of an incredible amount of drudgery. Fairly recently, two alternatives that work have appeared on the market at reasonably affordable prices. Fujitsu introduced the ScanSnap S600 and PiqX introduced the Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner.

The Fujitsu scanner can handle documents of larger size than the Xcanex, and it is Mac-compable. But it isn’t portable. The Xcanex is very portable (so I’ve been able to take it to a library) and is USB powered by a computer, but not yet Mac-compatible. Both allow much faster and easier copying of bound copy, making it a much more practical approach to digitizing such copy without a price of thousands of dollars. The software included with both deals reasonably well with potential distortion cause by page curvature and perspective. Both of these scanners require practice to achieve good results.

I’ve got the Xcanex. As it currently has Windows-only software (Mac compatibility is planned in the future) I used Boot Camp to install Windows 7 and (temporarily) defile my MacBook Pro. By paying attention to the documentation and tutorial videos, it has become a practical tool for me. But I still hate Windows and the need to switch to that environment to use the Xcanex, and I won’t become a real fan of this capable little scanner until it becomes truly Mac-compatible and I can remove that Boot Camp partition. :slight_smile:

Not really useful for the problem with the S510 scanner, but some of us might soon run into similar problems with scanners such as the fi-5110EOX series. I have been using one of those since 2006. Only recently did I discover that there is a 3rd party driver: … index.html

Unfortunately it does not support the 510. Notably, it also lets you use the Windows-only versions of the 5110 on the Mac. I have not tried the software, as Mavericks still supports the 5110.

Bill: I imagine that the Xcanex scanner would work under Windows in VirtualBox. After I upgraded my 2010 17" MBP to a 1 TB SSD, performance dramatically increased and I revisited using virtual machines. With a conventional HDD, Win7 was a drag, but now it’s fun to use it. If the Xcanex works with the USB passthrough to Win7, this would make things for you orders of magnitude simpler. In fact, that’s what I might use Win7 and some Linux/BSD distros in VirtualBox mostly for. I don’t have much Windows software that I need to run, but my printers (HP DJ 970 and OJ K8600) recently had tremendous issues under OS X. Starting with 10.9.4., from one day to the next they lost duplex capability. Win7 still has original HP drivers that work nicely with these printers. Similarly, my Epson 2450 Perfection scanner has lost Epson driver support since OS 10.6. The Apple-based driver is OK, but not nearly as nice, and for some reason I don’t find VueScan intuitive, even though otherwise it’s fantastic software. I now use VirtualBox with Ubuntu to use XSane (never got XSane to work on OS X, for some reason).

The software for the Xcanex does a lot of processing to detect page and text boundaries and to correct for skew, page bowing and perspective distortion. I corresponded with the developer about the possibility of using a virtual machine, and his response was that I probably wouldn’t be satisfied with the performance. That’s why I went with Boot Camp and Windows 7.

As many reviews have noted, Macs run Windows better than most computers sold for that purpose. (I still don’t like Windows, though.)

Bill: Point taken about the performance hit. If it makes the scanning process slow, it’s going to be such a nuisance that it won’t be worth it. However, it would be worth a try. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to quickly whip up a Win7 VM, with the activation business.

My tangent in my previous post about using virtual machines to keep old hardware going actually had some outcome related to Buffalo77’s question about the S510M: I checked with the Sane project, and they list Fujitsu S510M support as “complete”, which is the highest level they assign. So supposedly, XSane can use the S510M, and also supposedly, Sane can be installed under OS X (I tried a few years ago and had no luck with my Epson 2450, though). Suppose this works, this could be a viable route to getting that scanner working again. Of course, I don’t know, and have no way of checking, whether that support is any good, i.e. how automatic sheet feeding is supported under Sane.

Might be easiest to test this out under Linux, where Sane/XSane is trivial to install and known to work. Ubuntu 14 is extremely quickly installed under VirtualBox in OS X, and Sane/Xsane is a standard package, worked with my scanner immediately, once the USB 2.0 extensions were installed.

Update: Sorry, things keep coming to my mind. It is nowadays possible to run OS X itself in a virtual machine. You could run OX 10.6 or similar in a VM in Yosemite, and install the old drivers for the S510M there. If that works, it’s probably much easier than the Sane route.

For bound pages, a camera (or smartphone) + a tripod works really well. I regularly do books this way and OCR them. I’ve had pretty good results. It’s not as good as dismembering the book and feeding it through a scanner! But, it is pretty close. As many of us have smartphones already, it’s really just the cost of a tripod (mine was less than $30).

  • instead of a hanger or other clipping device, sticking a heavy object (like a book) on the long leg of the tripod works fine.

I agree. I’ve often taken images of book and journal pages using a camera or iPhone 5s. But I was never able to make them look as good as can the little Xcanex, which costs less than $300. Put the book under the scanner and flip the pages every few seconds.

See this sample of a few pages from one of my old grad school texts: (364 KB)

Thanks for posting the images. I agree that they look better than the ones I take, though perhaps not remarkably so. You’ve got more white than I normally get or the bend of the paper, so that is definitely a nice improvement. The key to getting good pictures with a phone or a camera is a tripod to stabilize it and leave a hand (or hands) free to mess around with the book. But, there are limits, especially since I am not using software or hardware that can account for the curves.